Musical instruments off to Zambia

kurkjian-varty-saxaphonist-paeb-quartet-raising-rhythm-fundraiser Alto saxophonist Ashley Kurkjian and baritone saxophonist Brenden Varty make up half of the Paeb Quartet, one of four saxophone quartets who performed at Raising Rhythm’s fundraiser Thursday night. Photo by Nick Jean

Nick Jean
A&E Reporter

Raising Rhythm started about a year and a half ago as a conversation between two friends. Over the ensuing months it has raised nearly $10,000 and sent dozens of new and used instruments to those in need half a world away.

One of those friends was Hugh Samson, part of Humber College’s Business School faculty. The conversation was about a Zambian by the name of Shakarongo.

“Shaka has been going into the villages (of Zambia) for the last 20 years teaching music to kids,” Samson said. “In the process, (he’s) taught them about protecting themselves against AIDS, helping them become performers and build the self confidence in life that they need to be successful.”

He said Shakarongo’s dream was to open a central music academy in the Zambian capital of Lusaka.

Samson brought the story back to his post-graduate Marketing Management course, suggesting they do a class project to build a business plan.

That business plan became Raising Rhythm and five students from that class became the organization’s first interns after graduating, members of its Board of Directors.

“Our mission is to help youth through arts and education programs,” Raising Rhythm founder and former intern Chantal Peralta said.

The program has continued to conscript new interns from across the Business School.

“It’s growing every week. The potential is huge,” second-year Business Management and Raising Rhythm intern Marta Ryborz said.

That potential continued to show last Thursday when 80 to 90 people packed into the yoga studio at 80 Gladstone Ave. for a fundraising concert featuring four saxophone quartets, three from Humber and one from University of Toronto.

“It’s been great. It’s really worked out,” Humber music faculty Alex Dean said of the cross-departmental show.

With the assistance of Raising Rhythm, including building ukuleles by hand in Samson’s basement, Shakarongo will officially launch the Shakarongo Arts and Youth Academy on April 1.

“I think it is win-win-win for everybody,” Samson said. “The students win by doing and leading this (organization).

“It’s a win for Humber College because it shows the world what Humber students can do and the types of opportunities it presents…

“And, of course, Shakarongo is a huge winner because he gets to deliver, build his dream in Africa.”